The Continental Congress, also known as the Philadelphia Congress, was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies. It became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution.
The Congress met from 1774 to 1789 in three incarnations. The first call for a convention was made over issues of the blockade and the Intolerable Acts penalizing the Province of Massachusetts, which in 1774 enabled Benjamin Franklin to convince the colonies to form a representative body. Much of what we know today comes from the yearly log books printed by the Continental Congress called Resolutions, Acts and Orders of Congress, which gives a day to day description of debates and issues.
Although the delegates were divided early on as to whether to break from Crown rule, the second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, passed a resolution asserting independence, with no opposing vote recorded. The Declaration of Independence was issued two days later declaring themselves a new nation: the United States of America. It established a Continental Army, giving command to one of its members, George Washington of Virginia. It waged war with Great Britain, made a militia treaty with France, and funded the war effort with loans and paper money.
The third Continental Congress was the Congress of the Confederation, under the Articles of Confederation.